Born in St Louis, Missouri, jazz singer DD Martin
has toured the world with musicians such as Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers, Little Anthony of The Imperials, Joe Sample of The Crusaders, BJ Thomas, Sonny Turner and Herb Reed of the Platters.
Why did you choose that name in the first place?
My formal name is Adele, which is French. The nickname for Adele is Day Day, and I changed it to DD for stage reasons. When we were in the studio recording my first CD So Sensitive, my producer Michael Val Blum said I should shorten the name so it would look great on Billboards. So I went with DD but my family will always call me Day Day.
What was it like to be growing up at St Louis, Missouri?
It was fun! I grew up mainly on my Aunty's ranch farm. I can say this about people from the Midwest that they are kind and friendly people. For example, you can walk down the streets in the town and a person on the other side of the street will wave hello without knowing who you are. People live for life and joy in the Midwest
What are you main influences?
My mother Estella Mae, people knew her by “Stella Mae”. She too was a gospel blues singer and she played acoustic guitar. She taught me everything I know. Besides her, other jazz ladies like Sahara Vaughn, Diana Washington, Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald are my biggest influences
You performed in Shanghai last month, what was different over there compared with Beijing?
Shanghai is the pace of living. It is growing and moving so fast compared to Beijing. Also jazz is big there, there are more places to play jazz. This is my first time in Beijing, so I can only compare to what I have seen in this short time, but I do look forward to exploring more of the music scene.
Do you mostly sing originals or covers?
I have completed my all jazz CD titled “All for the Love of Jazz”, which I debuted in Shanghai at CJW along with my original disc titled “So Sensitive”. They both were sold out before my tour had concluded, which makes me feel that singing cover tunes and mixing it with original pieces allows my audience to have the best of both worlds.
How often do you encounter people who might not necessarily take what you're doing seriously, just because you're covering other people's music?
Frankly speaking, most of my audiences are people that appreciate the performance of great songs for time past as well as the present. I have known that people in general are looking to hear and remember moments of joy, laughter, and excitement and music helps them to reflect. My performance of music is to bring that moment back into their lives.
Who are your all-time heroes?
My mother, because of how she was able to have a career and family. I take so much of her with me in my travels. On the stage every night, I hear her say to me “Sissy, God has given you this talent, so use it to shine and touch everyone that listens”.
Do you sometimes sing jazz covers of other genres?
Absolutely, jazz is my forte but I enjoy singing pop rock like Tina Turner, smooth jazz like Anita Baker and pop like Alicia Keys.
Performing with different band members around the world can be challenging. When was the first time you performed with musicians outside US and how did it go?
I was in Vienna performing with Herb Reed and The Platters. I was the female vocalist of the group at that time, and we were with the Austria orchestra. That was a high for me. Now in China, I perform with a much smaller group of players. They have shown me that the size of band doesn’t matter, it’s the musician that makes each song come to life with me.
DD Martin performs at CJW every Monday-Saturday. 9.30pm. Free.